Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World by Abigail Reynolds
2010, 248 pages
Imagine that instead of a reverberating refusal, Elizabeth Bennet was forced to accept Mr Darcy's first proposal, and finds herself engaged to a man she despises. This is the premise in Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World, where, after proposing to Elizabeth, Mr Darcy immediately kisses her, and when they are interrupted by by Colonel Fitzwilliam, Elizabeth is faced with the choice of refusing and ruining herself and her sisters' chances at marriage, or accepting Mr Darcy's proposal.
I picked this book up because I thought the premise sounded interesting. Instead of following Elizabeth and Mr Darcy after their marriage like so many other Austen spinoffs I've seen, this one pushes them together into marriage prematurely. I was definitely pulled in by the story, and finished this book within a few hours. The characterization of Elizabeth and Mr Darcy was very true to their characters in Pride and Prejudice, and I enjoyed seeing these characters again.
However, I have to say that on the whole I was disappointed by this book. Maybe it's a case of having expectations set too high, but I often found myself groaning as the plot unraveled. I thought that the development of the relationship between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy was abrupt and uneven - not enough development in some places, while in others it felt like both characters were being intentionally stupid, or else the plot seemed a little too convenient and cliched.
Despite all of these frustrations, I did race through the story, so I can say that it held my attention and kept me invested in the developing relationship between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy. Overall, I have lukewarm feelings toward this book, and would only recommend it if you're looking for an Austen sequel to read.